Announcing Tonido Relay Service

After Tonido’s release, we have been working based on user feedback to fix the major pain points faced by our current and future users. One of the significant issues faced by many is setting up remote access to their Tonido software outside their network.

This problem is exacerbated by several issues.

  1. UPnP support by most routers is really poor.
  2. Port forwarding settings for routers can be convoluted and difficult to understand.
  3. Port forwarding simply doesn’t work on some routers
  4. Port forwarding simply doesn’t work for DHCP clients when IP changes
  5. Port forwarding is not possible under some conditions because there are no user-controllable routers available in some networks. (Businesses, Campuses, Free Internet Wifi Spots).

There really is no robust solution to this problem that will work in all those above cases.

The only real solution is to relay Tonido data via a server that acts as an intermediary between the remote client and the local Tonido instance.

That is exactly what the Tonido Relay service does.

So for users who are unable to setup remote access through their firewall, Tonido Relay service is a viable alternative.

The overall simplified architecture looks like below.

relay_arch

There are some salient points about this service:

  1. The relay service is purely a data streaming service, no data of any sort is stored or monitored. It is all a bunch of bytes.
  2. Strong encryption: The connection between Tonido and the relay service is encrypted via SSL so it is resilient against snooping/hacking.
  3. HTTPS SSL support will be available as well, thereby making the complete connection impregnable.
  4. Relay service is purely optional (and disabled by default), everything else still works the same as always.

Tonido has always stood for the ability to be independent and self sufficient, so we agree that this service goes in the opposite direction. But in some cases, practical benefits due to this service outweigh some of the cons.

It all comes down to the choices available to a user. We believe that Tonido still offers users clear choices on how they want to access their data. If they can setup portforwarding because they have great control over their network they can do that. If they can’t, they still can use Tonido using the relay.

Relay Service will become available as a beta service in the upcoming release and on all supported platforms: Windows, Linux, Mac OSX and the TonidoPlug.

It will be free to use in the beta period.

8 Responses

  1. Matt Sawyers says:

    This is quite cool guys! I recently purchased a TonidoPlug and another for my Dad. The main reason I got them was because you gave users the ability to access the Plug directly, not through a relay, like some other competitors only do. The main downside to that is…well, the items you listed above. Now that you guys are offering the relay as an option for Plug users, this really blows your competitors out of the water! (And makes my job of attempting to set up the TonidoPlugs much easier 🙂 ) Keep up the good work! Can’t wait to see what is coming!

    P.S. I really like what you all have done with the redesigning of the website 🙂

  2. Madhan says:

    @Matt Thanks for your comments. It is a tricky thing balancing ease-of-use and self-sufficiency. Look forward to more ease-of-use changes coming in the next major Tonido release after this one. And glad you like the new site.

  3. Justin says:

    At the end of the post it says that relay service “will be free to use in the beta period.”
    A few questions:
    A. What exactly is this beta period testing – only the relay service?

    B. Is the relay service something that users unable to port-forward will be charged for in the future?
    and
    C. Where/how/when will we able to access the relay service?

  4. Madhan says:

    @Justin
    A. Yes, this beta is for the relay service
    B. We don’t know. We haven’t figured it out exactly. We expect to get feedback from our customers.
    C. Our release expected today or tomorrow will have this beta. To enable the relay, you can go to settings and just “enable” the check box. That is it. More instructions will follow with the release announcement.

  5. […] Alternately, Port forwarding can be completely eliminated by using Tonido Relay Service. […]

  6. […] great thing is the Tonido Relay Service. This allows you to access everything on your Tonido remotely, without having to open up any ports […]

  7. Alex says:

    Well, it is really good that there is a relay service. however, my suggestion would be keep it free of charge or minimise the fees because once u start charging you will lose your competitiveness. Currently there are few other softwares that providing free relaying servies. I’m not sure how much you gonna charge it but as far as i know if people are able to configure a free service to do exactly the same job most of us will not be buying it.

  8. Esha says:

    What I am not able to understand is, if there is a firewall then the remote access user may not be able to reach even the Relay Server. How is this done ? Is the link between the remote user and the Relay server two way and tunneling using HTTP/HTTPS ?
    because in the presence of firewall, a client can reach a server with public address but the server can not reach the client which has private address behind router and on top, a firewall. Should there be a configuration done on the firewall to allow traffic between the relay server and the remote user and on the other side – between the relay server and the Tonido ? (What if Tonido is behind an ISP like u-Verse of AT&T.

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